Lost and Regained AKP Votes and the Ways for Plebiscite Constructed through the State of Emergency
Lost and Regained AKP Votes and the Ways for Plebiscite Constructed through the State of Emergency
In this article, we analyzed which parties gained the votes AKP (Justice and Development Party) had first lost before June 2015 – November 2015 elections and what portion of it has been regained afterwards by AKP as well as the socioeconomic position of this electorate. Then, predictions of political transformation and development are presented based on the findings on the lost and returned AKP voters and executed policies considering the political tendencies awaiting Turkey in the near future.
I ended my writing[i], which was an analysis of June 7th election results and November 1st re-elections, titled as “Transformation through 2015 Elections; From Elected Authoritarianism to Democracy?” published on October 5, 2015 on Research Turkey, with the following remarks: “For the November 1st elections, a special and new election government was formed. This formed government was tasked to carry Turkey towards a new election in line with Erdoğan’s will. Yet this election environment should hinder CHP’s and MHP’s (opposition parties Republican People’s Party and Nationalist Movement Party) votes from exceeding a total 32 percent; MHP’s attempt to increase its votes either by forming an alliance with Prosperity and Great Union Parties or on its own and should ensure that AKP -alone or together with the alliances it has with Prosperity and Great Union parties- reaches over 37-38 percentages based on registered voters. So that re-elections favor Erdoğan and AKP which means the elections might take place earlier/later or not take place at all based on voter tendencies. Ultimately, based on all these analysis, it is a crucial point to emphasize that Turkey stands between democracy and elected authoritarianism after June 7th elections and it is not the end of a process but rather a mere start.”
145 days between June 7th and November 1st 2015 is a source of change in electoral behavior for a minimum of 5.012.642 voters[ii]. This difference also includes newly registered voters (414 thousand 782 people) and those that are not eligible to vote anymore (106 thousand 680 people). As a result at least 4 million 491 thousand 180 voters (8,3 percent of all registered national voters) have projected two different choices between June and November 2015 elections. Consequently, this led to a shift in parties’ percentages and also led to an AKP victory.
145 Days in a Couple of Frames
When June 7th elections declared AKP under the 276-parliamentarian number, which is required for majority government, the problems of selecting the head speaker of parliament and forming the government arose.
CHP, HDP and MHP could have chosen a head speaker with an agreement among themselves, as they had 392 seats among 550 total seats. However after Devlet Bahçeli declared that “MHP does not recognize HDP and that it is not possible for them to vote for the candidate, for which HDP also votes[iii]”, the person who was going to be head speaker of the parliament for the new term became obvious. Thus AKP, with its 258 parliamentarians, also guaranteed to have the head speaker of parliament from its legislative-executive package of Presidency-Head speaker of Parliament-Prime Minister.
After the election of head speaker, Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was assigned to form the new government by President R.T. Erdoğan and who was also the interim Prime Minister of the election government, spent 45 days of trying not to form a new government through expletory talks. Meanwhile, İsmet Yılmaz, the newly elected head speaker of Parliament, was tasked to block the Parliament from getting together and functioning.
While there was growing oppression and violence against HDP and its publicity works, which started before June 7th elections and increased after the elections, ISIS attack on July 20 in Suruç and killings of two policemen by PKK[iv] have been the declarations of an end of the peace/resolution process. After that point, increasing security measures by the government, discourse of stability and unequal election conditions ensured re-emergence of the previous majority government in Turkey.
Lost and Regained AKP Votes and the Source of These Votes
AKP has got 21.306.826 votes from the registered national voters in the June 12, 2011 elections. However, this vote decreased to 18.342.135 in June 7, 2015 elections, despite significant increase in the number of registered voters from 2011 to 2015[v]. AKP has managed to maintain its vote loss around 3 million in June 2015 elections, thanks to 1.326.109 new votes from other parties and new voters. That means that 4.290.800 people who had voted for AKP in the 2011 elections decided to opt for other option rather than AKP for the June 2015 elections.
In order to determine AKP’s voter volatility from 2011 to 2015 and from June 2015 to November 2015 elections, it is necessary to study the electoral volatility between elections and parties[vi]. The results of the study establish and present the AKP’s loss and gain of votes between elections, which is tabulated below.
According to this table, 4.290.800 AKP voters from the 2011 elections moved away from AKP in the June 2015 elections. Majority of these voters have been lost to the competing political parties and some of them have joined the resentful voters group. During this process, AKP, although it has not fully regained its losses, gained 1.326.109 new voters. These are mostly the first time voters and newly registered voters who have moved to the constituency. Among those who have voted for other parties only 13.066 voted for AKP in June 2015 elections. That means AKP has gained new voters in June 2015 elections from newly registered voters due to age and migration and not from the already registered voters from the province or district levels. It means that in contrast to the previous elections AKP has lost the potential to gain votes from the competing parties.
In November 2015 elections, AKP has placed itself as the receiver of new votes as opposed to losing votes. In other words, in November elections AKP seems to have more than regained its voters, whom had previously been lost to other parties. Yet this only holds true among right wing parties, because AKP regained only 700.000 of 1.800.000 votes lost to left wing parties in June elections. On the other hand, as opposed to 2.350.000 voters lost to other right wing parties, AKP succeeded to pull 3.800.000 voters to its own ranks from the same group of parties. At this stage AKP seems to have increased its electoral volatility amongst right wing parties albeit unsuccessful in regaining the voters it has lost to left wing parties. This point reveals one of the biggest weaknesses of AKP in terms of holding the power and shifting the ruling in its own desired direction.
The table below presents electoral volatility from 2011 to June-November 2015 based on both numerical and proportional distribution based on registered national voters from November 2015. In this way, the decrease in the votes of AKP to 18 million in the June 2015 elections and rise to 23 million in November elections along with traffic of lost and regained votes have been made visible.
It is a politically striking incidence that AKP has regained the votes, which it has lost since 2011, over the course of 145 days of reelection process.In June 2015 elections; MHP, HDP (People’s Democratic Party) and non-voters had most of AKP’s lost votes whereas in November 2015 elections AKP regained its lost votes mostly from MHP and non-voters (a number two times higher than what it lost in June). November 2015 elections present a different angle of the political picture of the magnitude of the registered voters between right and left wing parties among 54.049.949 voters and AKP’s weight within these measures. While, in 2011 the percentage of people who voted for parties with a rightist discourse (AKP, MHP, SP and all other smaller nationalist-Islamist parties) reached 53 percent, in June 2015 this percentage first regressed to 50,03 and increased to 54,29 in November. Having received first 39,42 percent, then in 2015 elections 33,94 percent (June) and 42,47 percent (November) respectively, AKP has located itself as a political party relying on voters clustered around right-wing voters and non-voters.
While the magnitude of voters who vote for parties with a leftist discourse (CHP, HDP and smaller leftist-socialist parties) among the registered national voters was around 25,80 percent, this ratio increased to 32,49 in June elections and regressed to 31,78 in November. In other words, voters of left discourse parties fluctuated around their upper limit of 32 percent in the 2015 elections[vii] and this fluctuations show that while the total number of voters in general increased by 0.6 percent, left discourse parties lost 0,7 percent of voters.
At this point an ambiguous question comes to mind: Are AKP voters and voters who changed their minds on not voting for AKP within 145 days and voted for AKP in November elections of similar or differing status?
The question above can be answered by looking into the varying status of those two groups, because status is determined with social affinity, differentiation and social clustering concepts carrying different consumption, education, work and life styles. Through this lens, it could be easier to comprehend this process and the future.
AKP Voters According to their District Status
Data Research Corporation for District Status Database[viii], which is developed based on society’s socioeconomic and demographic variation reflections on places in urban settlements, includes election statistics, as well. The table below has been generated using the data on political variation reflections of places from that database and by including election results from twenty thousand or less populated settlements in 51 provinces outside of 30 Metropolitan cities. The representativeness of the distribution of entire Turkey was ensured.
The table shows that 1/5 (20,25%) of the registered voters reside in mediocre status neighborhoods of the cities and AKP receives votes similar to its average vote in Turkey. AKP’s votes increase parallel to the change in urban neighborhoods from middle to lower middle class; and the lowest, and AKP votes reaches its peak in the lowest status neighborhoods. In rural settlements, however, AKP’s votes are similar to those from the low status neighborhoods, not the lowest neighborhoods.
AKP has got the votes, which it had previously lost in between 2011 and June 2015 and then regained within the 145 days between June and November 2015 elections, mostly from the middle/lower middle/low status and from the lowest status neighborhoods where its votes gradually reach a peak. This shows that Erdoğan’s and AKP’s nationalist/security-oriented politics, chaos and destabilization threats are most effective on middle/lower middle/low status neighborhood voters. Rural voters, on the other hands, seem to differ from low and middle status neighborhoods with a rate closer to upper status neighborhoods. This fact could be explained as an indicator that AKP has aimed mostly the middle and lower status urban neighborhoods of Turkey in its re-election policies.
From Re-elections to Presidency
On one hand AKP, with its vote rates reaching its 2011 maximum in unequal circumstances of November 2015 elections, carried state-PKK (Kurdish leftist/quasi nationalist rebels’ party) relations to warfare status from peace settlements with its nationalist, authoritarian, security concerned policies and with armed conflicts in Southeastern districts. Furthermore, they seem to be determined for the total destruction of bases of their former ally, the Gülen movement.
While HDP was marginalized by AKP and MHP starting from June 7th, state of emergency and statutory decrees obtained due to the July 15 attempt[ix], which was described as “a blessing from the God” by President Erdoğan personally, HDP eventually became the target for destruction. AKP certainly realizes that the environment for these practices has been prepared by the coup d’état attempt, conducted by the Gülen congregation with “a front loader rather than rear-push guidance”[x] due to fear of destruction.
When Gülen congregation was replaced with MHP with Bahçeli leadership, as an invisible coalition partner, AKP decided to use PKK and HDP as an instrument to reinforce nationalism of the masses in an attempt to divert from pan Islamism to nationalism. In addition, Turkish Armed Forces’ entrance into Syria[xi],jailing of journalists, HDP parliamentarians and mayors pending trial[xii] on the basis of terror charges, acted as a catalyzer, in order to interlock with people of nationalist tendencies from middle-lower status neighborhoods around AKP. Thus, while the government imposed presidential system as a way of getting rid of chaos and attaining stability; it also forced people to choose between the two selections of either making the de facto situation constitutional or surrendering to chaos.
Conclusion: What does the future hold?
Turkey stands between choosing among government’s enforced constitutional changes and democratic governance solutions resisting presidential system despite chaos threats, following November 01, 2015 elections and the political practices afterwards. While Erdogan and AKP impose the masses its presidential system as “presidential system with parties”, they also rely on the voters of AKP and MHP in November 01, 2015 elections, which constitute 52,8% of the registered voters. The sources of their power consist 8.5 % of electorate, which were regained in 2015 with nationalist and security-based policies and with the fact that AKP and MHP proposes the presidential system together. That means gaining any election with at least the 60% of the valid votes. It would not be wrong to think that all these will increase support for presidential system. Then what could explain AKP and MHP’s fears of not establishing the presidential system? As known by all parties, propaganda process in favor of presidency will be executed with ease during the referendum or plebiscite, while the opponents will have to fight with inequalities in mass communications and propaganda works.
2017 plebiscite is likely to take place as the Erdoğan plebiscite rather than a referendum for a presidential constitution and we can talk about three assurances and three fears in terms of ratifying the presidential system. The assurances are: Erdoğan’s charisma, the size of AKP and MHP’s voters during November 2015 and the stability demand from the masses due to fear of chaos. The fears are: the fact that the parties with a left discourse were able to preserve their 32 percent voter basis during the June and November elections; the existence of voters within the right wing parties (including AKP and MHP) who are against presidential system; the increase in the possibility of middle and lower social classes’ (including from AKP’s base) abstaining from voting or approaching opposite parties due to economic crisis.
Due to all these political-social and economic frameworks, Erdoğan and AKP seem to focus on resolving the presidential system issue before economic crisis’ effects spread across all social layers, while they are knitting up with MHP instead of the Gülen congregation. Contrary developments will prevent the de facto situation from becoming legal and will cause growing concerns for emerging conditions, which will pave the way for losing the power. These concerns worry both Erdoğan and AKP. That is why Erdoğan and AKP are in a rush to get everything done –with a referendum or plebiscite-, because this way Erdoğan has the chance to get what he wants, while getting rid of the potential constitutional problems the de facto situation may cause.
This stage is one of the defining phases of Turkey’s future as a disorganized society. That is why, as the concluding remark, we can say that Turkey’s voters–especially the middle and lower status urban residents- (in the referendum, unequal plebiscites) will mark the future place of Turkey with their votes and also will tell whether any lesson is learnt or not from the last 90 years of Turkey’s past, as an historical vote.
Dr. Sezgin Tüzün, Director, Veri Research Company
Please cite this publication as follows:
Tüzün, S. (March, 2017), “Lost and Regained AKP Votes and the Ways for Plebiscite Constructed through the State of Emergency”, Vol. VI, Issue 3, pp.6 – 15, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=13315)
[i]Tüzün, S. (October, 2015), “Is the change with the 2015 elections a change towards an elected authoritarianism or democracy?” IV, Issue 10, p.6 -19, TürkiyePolitikaveAraştırmaMerkezi (Research Turkey), Londra: Research Turkey (http://researchturkey.org/?p=9794&lang=tr)
[ii] In this study, we used and tabulated the databases produced by Data Research Company; in separating the ballot box based election results announced by the Supreme Election Committee from 81 provinces and their districts. Ahmet Payzun’s contributions to the vote volatility calculations and the tables produced based on these calculations in this writing were crucial for me. Therefore, I should extend my thanks to him once again here.
[iii]Bahceli has made the followingstatements on coalition and parliamentaryspeakerafter the June 7 elections: You can bringtogether AKP-CHP-HDP interested in peaceprocess. AKP+HDP coalition is a coalition model, capable of getting the vote of confidencebased on 337 parliamentarians. Ifnone of thisworks, thentherewill be elections as soon as possible.” (Cumhuriyet Newspaper 08.06.2015) http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/secim_2015/294061/Bahceli_koalisyona_kapilari_kapatti__erken_secim__dedi.html
“We do not havecategoricalobjections, weonlyhaveprincipals. We do not say we can getinto a coalition, wewillonly start the talks. Minoritygovernmentformula is futile and wrong. Anyformulawhichinvolves HDP orsupportedby HDP will be without us and it is out of ouragenda”. (Milliyet Newspaper, 17.06.2015)
“Bahceli’s new ‘no’ came for parliamentary speakership. MHP leader Bahceli, who ruled out reconciliation with other opposition parties, was expected to leave his group free in the fourth round of elections for the speakership. Yet Bahcelisaid “If our candidate won’t stay for the fourth round then there will be 80 invalid votes in the ballot box”. Two candidates, IsmetYilmaz from AKP and Deniz Baykal from CHP stayed until the fourth round of elections, getting the most votes in the third round of elections. When MHP group followed what Bahcelisaid;Deniz Baykal could not become the parliamentary speaker despite the HDP support. IsmetYilmaz became the new parliamentary speaker getting the entire AKP votes. (Hürriyet Newspaper, 02.11. 2015)
[iv] According to the news in ANF, HPG has made the following statement: “In 22 July around 06.00, an Apoist guerilla team, as a retaliation for the Suruc massacre, has made a punishment act in Ceylanpinar towards the 2 policemen, who are in collaboration with ISIS bands. As a result of this act FeyyazOzsahra and OkanAcar have been killed and their identity cards and guns are withheld.” PKK’s military wing (People Defence Forces, HPG) claimed responsibility for killing of two policemen in Ceylanpinar district of Sanliurfa. HPG press center statement: “In 22 July around 06.00, an Apoist guerilla team, as a retaliation for the Suruc massacre, has made a punishment act in Ceylanpinar towards the 2 policemen, who are in collaboration with ISIS bands.” http://www.demokrathaber.org/guncel/iki-polisin-oldurulmesini-hpg-ustlendi-h51990.html
In SanliurfaCeylanpinar, two policemen were shot in the head… Reuters declared that PKK has claimed responsibility for the attack. According to Reuters, in the same statement, this attack was carried to take revenge of the Suruc attack. ( 22.08.2015, Cumhuriyet Newspaper)
[v] Data Research Company’s ballot box based election results database since 1983 is a result of studies adjusted for province distinction, rural/urban and district governing differentiation in the context of the reflection of political differentiation to locality/space. Ballot box based election results obtained from prisons are outside of this political database considering the incidental factors outside of natural district structures. This makes small differences between the vote distribution numbers declared by Supreme Election Committee (YSK) and Data Research district status database numbers. Another difference between YSK official election results and Data Research Company’s district based political database is resulted from deviations in YSK’s computerized ballot box results gathering. According to the YSK results announcements; AKP has got 21.320.207 votes in the June 12, 2011 elections; and 18.347.747 in the June 07, 2015 elections, 22.952.750 in the November 01, 2015 elections. Yet in this article, AKP’s vote in 2011 elections was taken as 21.306.826, being 13.381 less than YSK results; 18.342.135 votes in the June 2015 elections, being 5.612 less; and 22.952.750 in November 2015 elections being 6.644 less. And these differences are reflected in the voter volatility calculations as well. The links to the pdf tables of official and final results announced by YSK could be found below:
[vi] Political parties’ plus/minus vote changes are calculated with domestic registered voters’ votes /valid votes and parties’ comparative votes in every district in 81 provinces, in first 2011-2015 June, and then June-November 2015 elections for the 2011 and 2015 elections. The vote volatility data obtained is registered as absolute numbers in dividing the lost and gained votes, creating district scaled vote transition database, and inter-elections and inter-parties vote volatility tables are created. In this writing, vote volatility and status tables are prepared using the ballot box, neighborhood and district based election statistics and neighborhood status database.
[vii] Starting from 1950, first with DP (Democratic Party)-CHP and then AP (Justice Party)-CHP and increasing right-left duality defines the background political polarization of Turkey. (See; Kardem, Ahmet; Tüzün, Sezgin, Political Polarization and Electoral Behavior in Turkey, Data Research Publications, 1998 Ankara. P: 29-58). This predefined and emerged as a CHP tradition and gradually widening line as a tendency sphere for left wing parties point to the political streams able to get more than 1/3 of the registered domestic votes in Turkey. The electoral weight of the parties with an Islamist-nationalist-conservative political discourse come to the forefront as the dominant political tendency gathering the 2/3 of Turkey’s electorate under its roof. Hence the shifting political tendencies occur in relation to voting behavior of varying fractions. For instance in 1977 elections, parties with a leftist discourse reached the maximum of their votes, thanks to the vote turnout of leftist voters reaching their upper limits and non-voters reaching to 31,8%.
[viii] The Turkish Neighborhood Status database, which Data Research Company created from 1994-95 until today; gained its new structure, when the number of Metropolitan Municipalities increased to 30 and all the settlements of those provinces included in the neighborhoods. The neighborhood status database is created, on the basis of streets’ land prices (60% weighed), neighborhood average education –average year spent in formal education- (30% weighed), and neighborhood’s houses, office buildings –determined by national statistics office- appearance scale value (10% weighed) and Data Research Status database used in the province, regional and national level. The database neighborhood based socioeconomic and demographic information includes the election data and the table used in this writing was also produced using the Data Neighborhood Status database.
[ix] It was retrieved from Prof. Dr. Mustafa Altintas’ article on December 03, 2016, “Connecting the University to the Palace” from his column named ‘Events and Opinions’ http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/koseyazisi/639540/Universiteyi_Saray_a_baglama.html
[x]In Prof. D. Kadir Cangizbay’s column in Birgun Newspaper published on Saturday, August 20, 2016, the act’s characteristics are defined as “it is certain that it is a guided attempt, however, it is a front loader rather than rear-push guidance”, when analysing the July 15 coup d’etat attempt.
[xi]According to the news prepared by Anatolian Agency based on the information obtained from the President of EDAM (Economy and Foreign Affairs Centre), SinanUlgen and Advocacy Specialist Can Kasapoglu, on August 24, 2016, Turkeyhas started the Euphrates Shield Operation using it’s rights derived from the Article 51 of UN Convention. Starting from November-December 2016, the fact that Euphrates Shield Operation reached towards al-Bab, has resulted in changes in the characteristics of the fighting and caused more casualties. TSK has made changes in its force plans regarding the Euphrates Shield Operation and directed a lot of elite military elements, which have extensive experience in the fight against PKK. According to the Turkish press news on clashes, the car bombings used by ISIS are the biggest factors increasing casualties. Moreover, a lot of militants allegedly wear suicide vests during the fighting. Attacks, which increase especially when the visibility is low due to weather conditions, shows that ISIS is following its usual operation methods for defense in al-Bab. Despite all these difficulties, it is possible to conclude al-Bab operations with military success, turn military success into permanent political gains, through right use of diplomatic skills and clearly defined political aims regarding the military operation.
[xii]The constitutional amendment regarding parliamentary impunity will affect 129 Members of Parliament. This constitutional amendment proposition carrying AK Party signatures and proposing the removal of the impunity of parliamentarians will be discussed first in the parliament Constitution Commission and then in the plenary committee next week. Impunity of 129 parliamentarians will be removed, if the amendment supported by CHP and MHP becomes law and effectuated.
(17.04.2016 YeniŞafak Newspaper)
The constitutional amendment proposal regarding parliamentarian impunity, focusing on HDP deputies, was entirely approved with 376 affirmative votes against 140 no votes. With these results, the two-thirds majority (367) limit required to pass the change without a referendum was exceeded. https://t24.com.tr/haber/dokunulmazliklarin-kaldirilmasi-icin-anayasa-degisikligi-teklifi-tbmmde-kabul-edildi-simdi-ne-olacak,341389
9 deputies were arrested with the HDP operation and 2 were released. In the context of the investigation carried by Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Hakkari, Van and Bingol Attorney Generals, 15 HDP deputies were taken into custody.11 deputies were taken into custody and 9 were arrested including the co-presidents.